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Wednesday, March 29, 2017, 16:19 (GMT+7)
Actively and comprehensively implementing measures for 2017 defence diplomacy

In the past years, under the leadership of the Central Military Commission and the Ministry of National Defence, the defence diplomacy has emerged as an effective weapon in the cause of Homeland’s protection and construction. In 2017, the task of defence diplomacy should be comprehensively implemented with practical and effective measures, making contribution to the common foreign affairs of the Party and State.

Lt.Gen Vu Chien Thang addressing the Conference on Reviewing 2016 Defence Diplomacy held by Ministry of National Defence (photo:

Grasping and strictly implementing the guidelines and policies of the Party and the Central Military Commission on being active and proactive in international integration and defence diplomacy, in recent years, defence diplomacy has been comprehensively implemented in depth with focal points, and recorded positive outcomes. The typical ones include: bilateral defence cooperative relationships have been implemented in correct orientation with practical outcomes, breakthroughs, and relevant activities, creating a strategic balance and interweaving interests, improving the mutual trust and understanding, making contribution to the improvement of the Army’s combat strength, and the maintenance of national political and security stability. The task of border diplomacy, particularly the border guard cooperation has been comprehensively implemented with new, creative and effective methods. Multilaterally, the defence diplomacy has been comprehensively implemented and recorded practical results. Vietnam People’s Army has actively and responsibly participated in multilateral defence diplomacy within the framework of regional and international security mechanisms, such as the ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting (ADMM), the ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting Plus (ADMM+), the ASEAN Regional Forum, and Shangri-La Dialogue, etc. In the meantime, it has continued to effectively deploy forces participating in the UN’s peace keeping operations in line with the roadmap set in “the master plan on Vietnam People’s Army participation in UN peacekeeping operations in 2014-2020 and beyond”, making contribution to the consolidation of trust with other countries and international organizations; enhancing the prestige and status of the country, the people and the Army in the international arena.

The task of defence diplomacy information has experienced new developments, both in depth and breadth. Particularly, the news and articles reflecting military diplomacy activities, military international cooperation and sea and islands’ sovereignty protection have attracted attention of readers at home and abroad, making contribution to shaping public opinions, improving understanding of the people and international community on the defence policy of peace and defensive nature of Vietnam; while reducing suspicions and misunderstandings, bringing about widespread support of the international community for Vietnam.

The year 2016 continued to record success in defence diplomacy. Together with the Party, the State and the people diplomatic activities, defence diplomacy has created a foundation to enhance national defence – security strength and become one important measure for firm protection of the Homeland, using peaceful measures, making contribution to the maintenance of political stability and a peaceful environment in the region and the world.

In 2017, while peace, cooperation and development remain the mainstream, the possibility of complex and unprecedented developments originating from maritime sovereignty disputes and ethnic clashes would emerge. The Asia – Pacific region will continue to develop dynamically and represent a center of international attention. ASEAN countries are experiencing an important period after the establishment of a Community in 2015. Those broad and deep changes will directly affect defence diplomacy in both positive and negative ways. In order to successfully implement assigned tasks, meeting the demand of building and protecting the Homeland in the new situation, the defence diplomacy should focus on the following contents:

Firstly, to continue to thoroughly grasp and effectively implement the defence diplomacy in accordance with guidelines identified in the Resolution of the Party 12th National Congress; the Resolution No.22-NQ/TW of the 11th Politburo on international integration and Resolution No. 806-NQ/QUTW of the Central Military Commission on international integration and defence diplomacy, of which the utmost target of defence diplomacy is to “ensure supreme national interests on the basis of fundamental principles of international law, equality and mutual benefit”. At the moment, the country is ever broader and deeper integrating into the international community, thus, defence diplomacy should closely combine between cooperation and struggle on all aspects and at all levels, aiming at bringing about the equality and the respect of legitimate rights and interests of each other, and mutual benefit. Accordingly, the struggle in defence diplomacy should effectively implement the guideline of being absolutely determined in strategic principles while flexible in actions to cooperate and solve differences, avoiding being in isolation or confrontation. In addition, it is necessary to consider international integration in defence the strategic orientation, creating favorable conditions for international integration in other fields, forming a united block in the national strategic foreign affairs, aiming at bringing about a comprehensive strength of the country and taking advantage of external potentials, serving effectively the cause of Homeland’s construction and protection. Departments and units of the whole Army should improve the knowledge on defence diplomacy, considering it an important method to protect the Homeland by peaceful means.

Secondly, to strengthen and improve the task of strategic study and forecast. To ensure its comprehensive and general nature, with focal points, particularly on new developments in the region and the world that might cause direct impacts on Vietnam’s defence and security. On that basic, to timely consult the Party, the State, the Central Military Commission and the Ministry of National Defence on planning and implementing relevant solutions, not to be surprised and passive in any situations. In implementation, departments and units, particularly the strategic agencies should focus on the causes; making accurate forecasts about developments; analyzing impacts on international relations, including the relations of Vietnam, to timely implement responsive measures. At the same time, those units and agencies should have plans to closely and effectively collaborate with the foreign relations agencies of the Party, the State, the localities, and related forces on studying, forecasting and giving strategic consultations on defence diplomacy, aiming at bringing into play the comprehensive power of analyzing and assessing the situation, making defence diplomacy an important linkage in the whole country’s foreign relations.

Thirdly, to continue to promote established bilateral defence cooperation in depth with practical outcomes. Priorities should be given to neighboring countries, major powers, ASEAN countries, and traditional friends. To effectively implement the signed memoranda of understanding and agreements; to enhance high level exchanges; to foster cooperation on the fields of overcoming the consequences of war, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, experience sharing on the participation in the UN’s peacekeeping operations, and defence industry, etc. To maintain and promote the efficiency of defence dialogue and consultation mechanisms with other armed forces, making it an effective channel to both enhance cooperation and timely address differences and issues that emerge in cooperation. To accelerate border diplomacy; to enhance joint patrols, exchange activities and friend making (between border posts and communities of the two neighboring countries); to successfully organize the 4th  Vietnam-China border defence friendship exchange; to cooperate and successfully implement the task of border demarcation and marker planting with Cambodia, adding more border markers in the border with Laos, making contribution to the consolidation of the whole people defence posture and people security posture at border areas, making its border the border of peace, friendship, cooperation and development.

Fourthly, to proactively and actively participate in multilateral defence cooperation mechanisms within ASEAN framework, and led by ASEAN. To have initiatives, proposals, and practical and effective activities, aiming at gradually improving the role and position of Vietnam People’s Army in multilateral defence and security forums at regional and global level. Departments and units should be active in participating and successfully fulfilling their assigned tasks in the year Vietnam hosts APEC 2017. To continue preparation of personnel to effectively participate in the UN’s peacekeeping operations, in line with the roadmap set in “the master plan on Vietnam People’s Army participation in UN peacekeeping operations in 2014-2020 and beyond”. First and foremost, it is necessary to deploy forces in the UN’s peacekeeping Missions in South Sudan and Central African Republic, and to fulfill and successfully deploy level-2 field hospitals and engineer forces to UN peacekeeping missions.

Fifthly, to continue to supplement and complete legal documents, policies and mechanisms relating to international integration and defence diplomacy, considering them the foundation to unify actions in implementation. First and foremost, the Army’s foreign relations departments and agencies should focus on studying, supplementing and completing the Degree 22/2016/NĐ-CP, dated March 31, 2016, on defence diplomacy; and the master plan on international integration in defence diplomacy through 2020, vision to 2030 of the Ministry of National Defence. For long term, it is necessary to improve the quality of cadres directly participating in defence diplomacy, considering it a key solution for successful accomplishment of foreign activities in the new situation. Attention should be paid to improving foreign language capability, skills in conducting defence diplomacy, aiming at meeting the ever higher demand of the cause of Homeland’s construction and protection.

Sixthly, to be active in reforming contents and measure to disseminate information on foreign relations, to make Vietnamese, oversea Vietnamese and the international community clearly understand the defence policy bearing peace and defensive nature of Vietnam. On that basis, advertising the images of the country, the people and the culture of Vietnam, while resolutely opposing and countering against distorted allegations of hostile forces; taking advantage of the support of the international community for the national defence direction and policy of the Party and the State. The Army’s departments and units should closely coordinate with civilian media agencies to renew contents and forms of defence diplomacy information dissemination, focusing on activities of international cooperation in defence, border diplomacy, border guard cooperation, conveying adequately official information on the direction, policies, and guidelines on foreign relations, cooperation, and international integration in defence sphere of the Party and the State to the whole people, the whole Army, and to the oversea Vietnamese, making contribution to the improvement of efficiency in defence diplomacy in the new situation.

Lt. Gen Vu Chien Thang

Director of the Department of Foreign Relations, the VPA

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